Beautifully Broken

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out my kids’ rooms.  


This is becoming a regular occurrence. Not because my kids have gotten any messier, really, but because I just can’t figure out where to put things in this new house. 

It’s a lovely home, but it’s very different from the home we left last summer.  And when we bought our last home, we only had one child. She was all of 18 months old when we moved in, and we had more than enough space for the three of us. 

Over the years, as our family grew, we settled into every nook and cranny of that house. Seven years later and with two more kids in tow, trying to pick up that life, move it across town, and figure out how to organize it in this new space has been challenging.  Sometimes it feels like we just don’t fit here.  It’s the “square peg in a round hole” thing.  Or like I’m wearing my shoes on the wrong feet.  Getting comfortable (and organized) in this new space has not been easy.  

Sadly, though, being a Type A, I just can’t shed my idealistic desire to have a home that looks like a photo right out of The Container Store catalog. 

So I’m currently engaged in the exercise of insanity as I continue to organize.

And organize.

And organize some more.  

(Feel free to make fun of me right about now. There’s a lot to work with. I know my desire to have a home where every cabinet is organized and every container is labeled is about as unrealistic as my desire to always have freshly painted nails, to have a well-balanced gourmet meal on the table when my husband comes home from work, and to have children who never stink. And never have dirt under their finger nails. And who always look like they stepped right out of J. Crew.  A girl can dream, though, can’t she?)

But I digress.  

So on this particular day, I was organizing.  Have I mentioned that?  

And in the midst of all the clutter, I stumbled upon a hand-painted wooden box in our daughter’s bedroom.  

When I picked it up to dust underneath it, something rattled inside.  So I opened it to take a peak.  And what I found took me back seven years ago to a beach trip I shared with my daughter and our extended family. 

It was a hot summer day on the beach at Mustang Island, just off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas.  A place my extended family has been visiting regularly since I was two years old.  A place that holds so many memories for all of us, some of which now include my grandparents’ great grandchildren.  A place that feels like a second home.  

For hours that day, I remember sitting in a chair next to my mom, as together, we watched my daughter collect things on the beach. She was cute as a button, donning a red and white gingham bikini and quite a fantastic hairdo I must say.  


She was focused and diligent in her search.   

She held a sand bucket in one hand and a fist full of seashells in the other, not realizing (until one of her cousins taught her otherwise) that she could actually use the bucket to hold the sea shells she was collecting. 

After an exhaustive search of the beach where we were sitting, she brought the bucket over to me.  And with pride in her eyes and urgency in her voice, she asked, 

“Mommy, will you keep my beautiful sea shells for me?”

When I looked down into the bucket, I found bits and pieces of broken sea shells.  Not a single one remained intact.  But the look on my daughter’s face and the serious way in which she posed the question said everything. 

These were her treasures. 

And she was able to see beyond their brokeness to catch a glimpse of their beauty.  On top of that, she was trusting me to care for her special things.

I cried.  

Because in that moment, my two year old reminded me that there is beauty everywhere.  Even in the broken things.  And I needed to see the world through her eyes.

Several months ago, I wrote about a lesson that Kory and I learned in a parenting class:

We should always measure our response against the excitement on our child’s face. 

So instead of tossing the sea shells into the sand at the end of the day, I took care of them for my daughter, just as she requested.  And I made sure that the sea shells, broken or not, got home with us at the end of the trip.  But who would have guessed that my daughter, seven years later, still keeps the broken sea shells in a hand-painted wooden box in her room?  I had no idea.

I would venture to say she still considers them treasures.  

I’m certain she still sees their beauty.  

And I’m so thankful for this unexpected reminder to look for the beauty amidst the broken things.  

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9


14 thoughts on “Beautifully Broken

  1. I remember that beach trip like it was yesterday! What memories! I am certain sentimental T does still consider those shells treasures!

  2. What a beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing! I may not have children, but I have two dogs with more toys (and clothes) than most kids. And that same desire to have my house tidy and spotless. Right now, in getting ready to put my house on the market, I have mixed emotions about leaving. I am so excited about getting married and starting a new chapter in our lives together. But it comes with a new home, and trying to organize and combine two people’s stuff. One step at a time…

    • Kristi, I totally get it. Change is hard. Even if it results from really good things. Be patient with yourself. It will all come together in time! So excited to share your wedding day with you.

  3. Fabulous post! I remember that trip, and LOVED that gingham swim suit.
    It’s funny, the quads are just a bit younger than that and Rylin’s been collecting things from the yard in a bucket. She loves little treasures and I don’t always pay enough attention to them. I’ll have to remember to measure my response to the excitement on their faces. That’s wonderful.

    • That principle, right out of Growing Kids God’s Way, has helped Kory and I avoid some disasters around here. One of the most poignant lessons we’ve learned along the way. We don’t always get it right, but it’s a great target! Unfortunately, the red swimsuit saw it’s last leg after T wore it for two summers. Wish we could have handed it down to the girls! It was precious.

  4. Beautifully said, and what a brilliant reminder that I Needed to hear: to respond according to how excited my kiddos are about something- not based on the true value of whatever it is they are excited about. Love you, friend!

    • Thanks for your sweet words! I have benefited so much from that principle over the years. But I also forget to implement it sometimes. Blogging about things like this helps me remember the tools that are available to me. Glad it was helpful to you too. Love you!

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